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ITER NEWSLINE 290
Last week a team of international experts put the ITER final design of the neutral beam and MITICA facility cryo-sorption pump under scrutiny in a thorough review. This comes before the ITER Organization releases the "build to print" design for the first pump to be manufactured for the Neutral Beam Test Facility Facility (NBTF) in Padua, Italy.
"The pump is an essential part of the ITER neutral beam system and can pump with speeds of up to 4.7 million litres per second," reports Matthias Dremel, vacuum pumping engineer at ITER. "This cryopump, which will be the world's largest cryo-sorption pump, has been challenging in engineering terms to design."
Vacuum Section Leader Robert Pearce agrees. "In a period of about one year the pump has been completely redesigned at ITER in order to produce a design which can be manufactured in a shorter time and at significantly reduced cost. Overall we have a higher integrity design which will save more than two years in the manufacturing schedule and around EUR 25 million."
The independent review panel of six experts was chaired by Alan Kaye, former Chief Engineer of JET. More than 40 engineers participated in the review which included representatives of the European and Indian Domestic Agencies, RFX Padua and industrial specialists. The reviewers commended the excellent work of the Vacuum Section design team, expressing appreciation for the high standards and also for the innovation of the novel design which solved all key issues. The review panel was united in its positive endorsement of the design.
The Vacuum Section now has the green light to start the preparation of the procurement of the first pump which is to be used in the Neutral Beam Test Facility in Padua, Italy.
"Transparency" is an obligation in France when it comes to nuclear installations. In 2006, a law was passed to ensure, among other things, the rights of citizens to access dependable information on issues related to nuclear activities.
The 2006 law on Transparence et sécurité nucléaire (TSN) significantly extended the role of the Local Commissions for Information (CLI), the citizens watchdog groups that were established in 1981. It enabled the CLIs to request from nuclear installations any documents deemed pertinent, or call on independent laboratories to proceed with environmental and health investigations.
As is the rule for every nuclear installation in France, a CLI was established four years ago to monitor ITER activities. Its members (representatives from local government, environmental groups, trade unions, businesses and health professionals) have been closely associated with the progress of the project.
Senior management from ITER visits the CLI at general assemblies and other scheduled meetings to present updates and provide clarification on any questions the CLI members may have.
On 24 October, for the first time in the PACA region, two CLI members participated in an inspection of the ITER worksite carried out by the French nuclear safety authority (Agence de sûreté nucléaire, ASN).
The event was considered significant enough for the ITER CLI to issue a press release, acknowledging the ITER Organization's "policy of openness and transparency" and a "spirit of collaboration" that had already been noted in 2011 on the occasion of the licensing process submitted to Public Enquiry.
"The presence of CLI observers at an inspection," reads the press release, "confirms [ITER's] policy of transparency toward the CLI and, in a larger sense, toward the inhabitants of the [PACA] region."
Read the CLI press release (in French) here
In a few weeks, on 31 December 2013, the European Fusion Development Agreement known as EFDA will come to an end. It will be reborn as a consortium called EUROfusion. ITER Newsline talked to EFDA/JET leader Francesco Romanelli about the reasons for the reorganization and the implications for the European fusion landscape.
Can you share with us the reasons for the reorganization of the fusion landscape in Europe?
The main reason for this step is to adapt to the challenges of the ITER era. The transition is somewhat similar to what happened within the EURATOM program in the early 1970s when it was discovered that the T3 Tokamak in Russia was producing a temperature of 1keV — a major breakthrough at that time. The decision taken then by the fusion community, the European Commission and the heads of the laboratories was to streamline the European fusion program along the tokamak line and to go for a large common facility in Europe.
That was the time when the design of the JET facility was kicked off. We are now in a somewhat similar phase. We need to cope with the fact that, ten years from now, ITER will be in operation and we will then have to proceed rapidly on the preparation of a demonstration fusion power plant.
It sounds like the new consortium is more focused on delivering electricity?
We are still in the research phase, but yes, we need to prepare ourselves—with a sufficient sense of urgency—for the production of electricity from fusion. This is why we are implementing our program through a project-oriented approach along the recommendations and the priorities set up in the new European fusion roadmap.
The roadmap was developed by EFDA following the recommendations of a panel set up by the Director General of the European Directorate-General for Research and chaired by Albrecht Wagner. The Panel examined the strategic orientation of fusion research including the role of JET in support of ITER. Its main recommendation is to substantially restructure the European fusion program in order to cope with the challenges coming up with the start of ITER.
So what does that mean precisely? What will change?
What will change is that there will no longer be baseline support for the labs. We are setting up the program around a number of work packages that involve either the exploitation of major devices in a campaign-oriented approach—as we did and as we will continue to do with JET—or specific projects that reflect the roadmap mission.
I expect that this system will give to all the present EFDA members the possibility of participating to the activities of the system taking advantage of each laboratory's expertise. In addition to this, the consortium is going to support activities on what we call "enabling research" in order to support the basic understanding of the plasma processes. We are also willing to invest a substantial amount of resources on preparing the new ITER generation of scientists on the undergraduate, PhD and postdoctoral level.
We are now finalizing all open issues with the goal of implementing the roadmap on 1 January 2014. So, to summarize, we are about to put fusion electricity production into very practical terms.